International online shopping doubled in a year


International Web shops have become part of the life of ordinary Finns. According to a survey made by Itella, 20–25 percent of goods purchased online are bought from abroad. Last year, the number of purchases made in foreign Web shops was doubled. According to the survey, one third of Finnish online shoppers are heavy users who make two thirds of all Web purchases. Furthermore, approximately one fifth of Finns search for information on goods and compare their prices in the Web, but buy the goods from a shop.

- The increase in international Web shopping has been known about for a long time but the doubling of it in one year came as a surprise. Buying goods from abroad has become commonplace for Finns. People purchasing goods from foreign Web shops are not much different from other Web shoppers, so the increase of international Web shopping poses a huge challenge for Finnish Web sellers, says Kirsi Paakkari, Business Director, Distance Selling.

The Internet is the most important shopping channel for one third of Web shoppers

According to Itella’s survey, 53 percent of Finns have already purchase goods over the Internet. One third of Web shoppers are heavy users who make two thirds of all goods purchases made in the Web. They buy goods from the Internet approximately twice a month, whereas an average Web shopper buys goods once a month. 
- Three things have contributed to the increase of Web shopping: international Web shopping has become commonplace, the number of shoppers has increased, and the range of goods bought has become wider. Previously, goods were bought from one product group only; now from two, on average. The most commonly bought goods are clothes, products related to hobbies, and electronics, Paakkari says.

Assistance from the Internet, purchase from a shop – the new potential of Web shops

According to Itella’s survey, approximately one fifth of Finns search for information and compare prices in the Web to support their purchase decision but buy the goods in a shop. In their experience, obstacles hindering online shopping include the lack of possibility to test the product, insecurity concerning the product and payment, difficult return processes and lack of personal communication.

- For a Web seller, this group with purchasing power is a great potential. It is important to find the means to win the consumer’s trust. Trust is created through experiences, reputation and recommendations”, Paakkari says. This target group is especially interesting because they are experienced Internet users and the price of the products is not a key issue. Traditionally, new customers are enticed with offers, but new and innovative means are needed in order to reach this group.

Good service expected from Web shops

Itella’s survey revealed that the most crucial criteria when buying from Finland included friendly customer service, suitable range of products and adequate information. When buying from abroad, ease of buying, price-quality relationship and price level were emphasized.

- Finns are used to helping themselves when buying over the Internet but when questions arise, they miss contact with a real human being. According to a previous Web shopping survey made by Itella, besides good customer service, basic things such as availability of information, price-quality relationship, payments and deliveries must function well. A customer who has been served well and who has had a good shopping experience is loyal to his/her Web shop. Finnish Web shops now have the chance to improve their position by offering first class and personal service, Paakkari suggests. 

The survey interviewed 1,500 Finns over 18 years of age in November – December 2008. The sample is nationally representative and it gives an overall picture of the scope and processes of goods e-commerce. The survey was conducted by Itella’s Business Intelligence department and Otantatutkimus Oy. The Finnish Direct Marketing Association (Finnish DMA) and some web shops participated in the planning phase. Itella has recently investigated the web shop entity by asking people’s opinions on the selection of web shops. Over 22,000 Internet users answered to the survey.

Further information to the media:
Kirsi Paakkari, Director, Distance Selling, tel. +358 50 3822 025

Images for the media are available on the Group’s Media services site (Image service and logos) at 

Itella Logistics, part of the Itella Group, supports and develops its partner companies’ business operations by offering cargo and forwarding, transport and deliveries, warehousing and contract logistics comprehensive solutions. In 2008, Itella Logistics generated net sales of EUR 813 million and employed 10,000 people in eight countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Russia).